Derrike Cope was planning on professional baseball being his career. The Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles were scouting Derrike during his high school days, but Derrike's father Don insisted he take the scholarship that Whitman College offered. In 1978 with Derrike playing catcher in a collegiate baseball game in Walla Walla, Washington, his plans for a baseball career immediately changed. He went to retrieve a wild pitch and when he turned to throw back to the base, his knee gave way. It turned out that the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments were severed. Derrike talks about this in an interview that is in MP3 format.
During his recovery, he helped his brother with his race car. Derrike's father was an engine builder for some of the best drivers in Winston West competition. This led Derrike to be interested in racing and after driving a few times, came up with the conclusion that racing would be his new career.
Derrike commented, "I had just started racing at Spanaway (Washington) Speedway when the throttle on my race car stuck and my car hit the wall, flipped and hit the embankment. I was blinded in my right eye for several weeks following that accident. An injury like that could have altered my whole life. I had to do a lot of thinking before my sight came back about what I would do. Once my eye had recovered, I went on with my career, and rarely do I think of what could have happened."
When Derrike is not racing, he presents motivational talks to school age children on such subjects as the importance of staying in school and never taking drugs. He is also actively involved in the March-of-Dimes, the DARE program, and supporting various charities. Being a positive role model and setting a good example is very important to Derrike.
Derrike enjoys golfing in charity tournaments and racing remote control hydroplane boats during the summer. In the winter, he hunts duck and pheasant with his father.
In 1995 Derrike Cope fans were pleased to see Derrike in a television commercial for the NASCAR credit cards. The great thing was to see him along with Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace in the commercial, and Derrike even had more speaking lines! Richard Petty also had a cameo at the end of the commercial. It helped to bring Derrike to the same level as the other top stars in Winston Cup. See below to view the commercial.
Derrike did some commercials for Badcock Home Furnishings in 1996. You can view all the mentioned commercials here in either RealVideo or Windows Media format.
In 1997, Derrike Cope joined some fellow NASCAR drivers and sang on Lonnie Hillard's CD Race Tracks II. Derrike was featured on one song and had a verse on another song. This was more singing than any of the other drivers did.
In 2001 and 2002, Derrike Cope became an analyst on FOX Sports Net when he wasn't racing.
Thanks to Donna Eyer for the MBNA commercial